Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

This is the fourth time that a boy has pulled out his cell phone on a date with me! I don’t think they were intentionally trying to be rude, but I felt like a third wheel…to a phone! Usually it’s just a quick text, or a scroll through their messages as we wait for a table, or our drinks, but I find it to be offensive. Am I wrong for thinking that cell phones should be off-limits during a date?


Text Vexed


Dear Vexed,

My son goes home from school on a van every day with eleven other boys. Nine of them have cell phones. My phoneless son, and the two others are left with the horror (heavy sarcasm there) of looking out of the window or making casual conversation with one another. Recently, a cell phone user was banned by his parents from using his device for a week as a punishment (Abuse! Call Child Services! Not.) I laughed and laughed as I told my son that he could use the time to reintroduce his car mate into the world of polite conversation. Perhaps I suggested, if he encourages the boy to move his thumbs as he talks, he would be more comfortable. My son, shockingly refrained from suggesting this, sadly unamused, and still phoneless.


Today, we are all guilty of being attached to our cell phones more than we should. If there is ever a lull in our day, a moment of time that we are not occupied, we immediately turn to our phones for entertainment. You are however, absolutely right in assuming that a date should be a no-phone-zone. When on a date you should be focused on connecting with the person you are out with, not catching up on emails or texts. This includes, but is not limited to (What? My husband is a lawyer) texting your friends, checking out Instagram, or catching up on a new headline.


Only very specific extenuating circumstances would make pulling out your phone ok, and you would need to disclose your reason to your date as soon as the date begins. Perhaps you would say, “I apologize, but I am an undercover agent, saving the world everyday with bravery and heart, and I am waiting for a call that will change the landscape of national intelligence.” Or perhaps you will say, “The Florida Lottery reached out earlier and said I may have won a billion dollars, and they are supposed to call me at any moment to confirm.” You get the point. If you have a genuine reason for needing your phone close by (single parent, sick relative, or a quick work emergency) you would need to let your date know from the beginning and of course keep your phone out of sight unless one of those calls comes in.


Yet, we are all human, and therefore fallible, and we make mistakes. Should you unwittingly pull out your phone on a date, just remember to fix the R.U.D.E. It is time to REFOCUS on your date, UNDO the damage by apologizing, DIRECT your attention back to the person you are out with, and EXPLAIN why you took out your phone. Perhaps this will lead to a meaningful conversation about connection, and communication. Dating is about finding a common bond and chemistry between two people. This takes conversation, laughter, and focus. Our phones are a distraction from the relationships we already have in our lives. Certainly, they are an obstacle from forming new ones. So put your phone away, and prepare yourself to make a person to person connection that could change your top phone contact for the rest of your life.


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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at to schedule a phone session.